So we clearly have a child that is operating on selfishness, manipulation, without conscience or cause and effect thinking. It wasn't that specific to me. I didn't understand the extent of the damage she had endured or that she could even be so calculated.
What I did know is for all the wrong decisions and bad behaviors there needed to be consequences. So I draw on my limited discipline knowledge that I used for three very obedient boys. We begin with timeout. I could put her in the corner where she would just spit on the walls or pee on the floor. She spent a significant amount of time in her room although I knew it wasn't serving any productive purpose. I could not withhold things from her because she didn't value anything. Although she clearly acted like the very thing we were taking away from her was life itself. But it was so superficial as time would tell. As were most of her emotions. We would try to bribe her but she would sabotage it. Nothing I was doing was working. I was operating on very high levels of anxiety and finally succumb to spanking. This was scary for a number of reasons. I didn't like it. I felt out of control. She seemed to prefer it to a timeout. And it was the only thing that would get her to be compliant. But only for a moment. I then would feel terribly about how strict we were being with her and convince myself she needed more love. It was a destructive, emotionally draining cycle that this clever little girl recognized. She knew if she pushed hard enough she would get an enormous amount of negative attention and confidently knew would be followed by an enormous amount of positive attention and love. She knew exactly what to do to get the most reaction out of me. I had no idea that a 4,5, 6 year old could be so manipulating. I had no idea that she reveled in the negative attention as much as the positive. I had no idea that her meaning of love was attention and only went one way. I had no idea that every one of my reactions were digging a deeper hole in which I had no idea how to get out of.